Rus Articles Journal

About what the American miners sang? History of the song “Sixteen Tons“

of the Songs devoted to people of working professions in the Soviet Union as to the country of the won proletariat, was written much. I am from Donbass therefore knew about a hard work of miners firsthand. However danger of a profession was fully compensated by a salary quite high for those times.

The Soviet miners were quite exclusive working caste therefore also the songs singing of their work were unambiguously optimistical. Whether it be lyrical “Left to the steppe Donetsk...“ or on - kiplingovsk heroic “Black gold“ of V. Vysotsky.

In the capitalist countries miner`s songs were written too, but nothing especially joyful in them was. We are told much about brutal intrigues of Stalin, but at the same time somehow forget about how charm was to working people of the USA in the same 1930 - 40 - e years.

Concept “freedoms“ in general thing quite ambiguous. Whether it is possible to call free the person whose life is kabalno connected with the place of its work? And the situation with the American miners quite so was. Let`s begin with the fact that they did not receive cash for the work, and “care“ of their life was completely undertaken by the coal-mining company. She provided to workers housing and obliged them to buy production only in own shops - clear business, all this then was calculated from a salary. As it is easy to guess, the prices in these shops (which workers nicknamed “pluck - me“ - “Deceive me“) were overestimated, and the worker steadily got into debt, turning into natural coal “serf“.

All these realities flavored with rage and aggression were fully reflected in the most popular miner`s song of America under the name “Sixteen Tons“ (“16 tons“). 16 tons of coal are a norm which theoretically had to be given on - the mountain daily. Practically it was extremely difficult to be realized because, except actually production the worker was obliged to clear the workplace - in particular of the water filling it. Clear business, nobody paid extra for cleaning.

The authorship of the song “Sixteen Tons“ still is in question though both applicants were not by hearsay familiar with miner`s work. The official applicant has a folk - the singer Merl Travis (Merle Travis) - the father worked all life on coal mines Myukhlenberg Kaunti. Ironic phrase of the father - “I am not able to afford to die - I ran into debt the soul to shop of the company“ - subsequently will be transformed to a line of the well-known song. On a refrain of Merl the letter from the brother John who with bitterness wrote about death on World War II of the journalist Ernie Payl inspired: “It is similar to work in coal mines. You extract 16 tons and what you receive? You become per day more senior and even more deeply you uvyazat in debts“.

Sixteen tons

(lane of bububird) of

They say that from ashes of people it is created,
A the poor - from flesh and blood, in it and blood, skin and bones,
Mind is rather weak
of the Muscle and a hump is hardy.

Refrain: you Give to
sixteen tons - and what use from that?
Itself is more senior per day and more and more your debt. do not call
, the Saint pyotr, I will not come -
Ya put soul to survive in hell.

In the cloudy morning once it is given rise to
the Shovel took in hand and in mine run
of Coal of the ninth brand gave sixteen tons
A the boss nodded: well, tell thanks on volume

in the Dank morning I was born in a rain of
here Run - on - trouble - so my name is
brought up Me an old lioness
to Cope with me there was no maiden.

You see, I go? - so best of all stand aside Who it did not make
- the Fist from iron lost the life
, other of steel -
If right did not get, so left will get

B 1946 the song was written down, and in 1947 is published on an album “Folk songs of the hills“. Problems began at once. In the middle of “cold war“ songs about sufferings of working people were perceived by the authorities as “communistic promotion“. Children from FBI even persistently recommended to radio stations a song not to run on the air.

However, the real success to the song came only in 8 years when it was heard by Tennessee Ernie Ford (Tennessee Ernie Ford). Ford had a beautiful baritone which defined his career. Having won the pilot on World War II, he at first got a job the announcer on radio. At the same time he so dashingly sang along, to the actors sounding on air that the Capitol firm paid attention to it and signed the contract.

By the way, our hero heard “16 tons“ personally from Travis who at one time earned additionally the guitarist in Ford`s group. Ford decided to upgrade the song. If Travis as a classical folksinger, just sang to the guitar, then Ford expanded tools, having connected a flute, a bass clarinet, a pipe, drums, the vibraphone and a piano. Despite it, arrangement was made with taste and is very laconic - all emphasis was placed on the rolling low vocal. Clicks by fingers became the business card of the version of Ford also. However, initially they in arrangement were not planned. The singer just set a rhythm, and on record clicks remained purely incidentally.

In October, 1955 the single with “Sixteen tons“ was published. However, in hits other song therefore “16 tons“ left on the second party was prophesied and... became the most successful “To Bee - pollacks“ in the history of singles. The song headed even two categories a hit - parade - in the section “country“ and in the section “bottoms“. By December of the same 1955 - go two million were sold (!) plates - the greatest success in the history of the Capitol records company and in the history of singles in general.
the Automobile company “Ford“ right there concludes the contract with the namesake, and that combines both professions in TV program of “The Ford Show“ - very popular. It is clear, that about a hard work on automobile conveyors Ford did not sing.

With bitterness observing this success, Merle Travis changed the last line of the song for sarcastic subsequently: “I owe the soul to Tennessee Ernie Ford“.

There was also one more offended. In 1959 a certain former miner George Davies declared that the song was written by him, but not Travis, and made it in 1930 - x years. Also it was called not “16 tons“, but “From 9 to 10 tons“ - it was the daily norm of coal mining. Davies declared that Travis only slightly - slightly changed chords and the text, and issued the song for the.

As they say, a matter of course that put dark. Here at us, thanks to a mistake of Melodiya firm, long thought that it is in general Paul Robson`s song though on that plate the version of PLATTERS group - by the way sounded, very well-known and, probably, the most variety on arrangement too.

A cover - versions of this song was weight! (See the first comment to article.) Krom of PLATTERS Tom Jones`s version of 1967 was very successful. In 1987 the excellent cover made American “a country - a bison“ by Johnny Cash, having accompanied it with very acute social clip. A little earlier - in 1984 - also Celentano was marked out, having written down the italoyazychny L`Ascensore version.

To the USSR came by the boy`s method from the book of Dostoyevsky who returned the star chart with the changes. That is, wrote on a song melody the text (with different variations) developing a favourite subject of the American pilots flying to bomb the countries of a socialist camp on “Phantoms“.

We sit in the bar in late hour,
I here from the chief goes the order:
“You fly, boys, on the East,
Rather on cars, your way is far“.

Farewell, a chuvikha, farewell, a brothel,
A in each bomb - 16 tons.
of 16 tons - considerable freight,
A we fly to bomb the Union.

We fly over the sea - beauty,
of 12 thousand height,
But there, at the sea, us over the sea marked the ships,

One shell got into a wing -
of the Operator to hell carried away,
Other shell got to a toilet -
was two There, now they are absent,
the Third shell got to me into an eye -
A I go bananas and I press on gas!.“
we and had enough

A about miners of songs.